Tag Archives: teenagers

Can I Homeschool & Work Too?

Guest Blogger

Texas Home School Coalition Association REVIEW © February 2008

by: Holly Williams Urbach

When I started teaching my children at home in 1993, it was rare for me to meet a home schooling mother who worked outside the home. We home educators met at our local park and commiserated on the challenges of tackling lesson plans and getting dinner on the table each night. Our husbands worked full-time, or more, to support the school lunch program, and we wives worked hard to stretch the income as far as possible. We swapped curriculum and clothes with each other, along with recipes designed to make the most use of the available items in our pantries.

Contrast the above scenario with 2007, when quite a few of my home educating friends and acquaintances work either from home or outside the home. While there are many families living on one income, increasing numbers of households are finding it more and more difficult to do so for a variety of reasons. When I counsel new home schoolers these days, many ask me if it is possible to work and homeschool.

My family and I are part of the growing trend of home educating families in which both parents are working. When we realized that I would have to begin working, my husband and I determined to continue home educating our children. We did not want to shortchange our children as a result of the difficulties we were having financially.

I am extremely fortunate to work part-time for a company that allows me flexible hours. I know of families with home-based businesses who face the same time crunch that I have working outside my home. I believe it is likely that we will find home schooling families where both parents work more common in the coming years. Whether working outside the home or from home, combining work and school is a task that requires creativity, energy, and determination.

Even with all the perks of my situation, I find it challenging to combine work and schooling.  Following are some ideas and strategies I use to manage home, school, and extra-curricular activities while holding a job.

One of the first things to do is develop a workable schedule. Obviously, a lot depends on the age and activities of your children. My four children still at home range in age from thirteen to nineteen. Since they are teenagers who require and desire a lot of sleep, I work mornings while they are still sleeping. When I arrive home around 1 p.m., they have gotten out of bed, eaten and dressed, and they are already working on independent assignments. We then have between 1:30 and 6 p.m. to complete their studies for the day. I have students who are well-rested and ready to learn.

When I worked two afternoons a week, I struggled to accomplish schoolwork in the mornings prior to leaving for work. The children were sleepy and sluggish. I was frustrated and felt that everything was rushed and seldom accomplished to my satisfaction. Our new schedule works much better for all of us. Determining your most productive work and school hours is the first step in making school and work successful.

The next thing to consider is what curriculum to use. A teacher who is also working may not have the preparation time available that she would like to have. Many employed home schooling parents find that computer or video curricula fill the need nicely for their students. I would caution parents not to use such curricula for all subjects, because students need variety and adult feedback to help them learn effectively. Others hire tutors or send their children to outside classes for some of their instruction.

At times, I have utilized outside classes and co-ops to help meet the needs of my students in science and math, freeing me to delve more deeply into history, literature, Bible, and foreign languages. These classes make my available time with my students more productive. The point is, take a deep look into your family’s needs and develop a plan that helps you not only to survive but also to thrive in your situation. Any frustration you encounter in your schedule is a natural alarm, telling you that something still needs adjusting. Pray about it and seek God’s direction on how to resolve the situation.

With the work/school schedule planned and the curriculum squared, the next big consideration is how to deal with housework, meals, and outside commitments such as Boy Scouts, 4-H, kids work, etc. My family and I take time to discuss housework issues, and the children and I divide the responsibilities between us. The great thing about this plan is that my sons are learning to launder clothes, cook, and keep house just as well as my daughter. We all pitch in to get the work done so no one has to spend a lot of time doing housework.

Meal preparation is time consuming enough for parents at home full-time, so having less time due to working outside the home can cause a lot of stress. I try to make things ahead of time over the weekend, so getting a meal on the table during the school week is easier. I use my crock pot as much as I can. I have many cookbooks that contain recipes for cooking in quantity and freezing meals ahead of time, to best utilize the time I have available.(Once a Month Cooking by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson and Jill Bond’s Dinner’s in the Freezer are two favorites.) I also solicit my children’s help in preparing meals. I reap the benefits of more time with my children and reduced time in the kitchen. Planning and executing a menu is essential to streamlining meal preparation as well as keeping expenses down by avoiding the fast-food trap.

My daughter has a part-time job, and she and my youngest son are active in 4-H. Such additional activities are worthwhile enough to our family to factor into our schedule the time they take. We have found 4-H to be a great program for our family, because each child can participate in an area of their own interest as we take monthly trips together to the meetings.  Another great thing about 4-H is that it helps our home schooling so that we work smarter rather than harder. Finding an activity that the whole family enjoys together is a great way to manage the time spent out of the home. Each family can find activities that add enough to the family that they also justify the time taken to participate in them.

Do I long for the days when I was home all day with my children? I certainly do. I have actually started a home-based business for just that reason. Once my business replaces the income from my part-time job, I will once again be at home all day with my children. I will still face that juggling act that comes with working and homeschooling, but I think that my children and I will all have gained a greater understanding of what it means to work together as a team and of how to adapt to changing situations. In the world we face today, those will be valuable and useful abilities for all of us.

Meet Holly Urbach


Reviving Our Vision

I thought that this was worth passing on to you.  It is so important to keep the vision of your family & homeschool before you so that you don’t lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing.  It really makes a huge difference!
~Dana
Reviving Our Vision
Naomi Musch
Recently in church, a homeschooling friend testified that she remembered the difficulties of rearing a household filled with small children, but it was a “whole new ballgame” once some of those children began to grow into teenagers and young adults. The challenges at this point, as anyone who’s been there will agree, are constant and relentless–and the devil gives no quarter.Moreover, once our children are finally grown, whether they’re still at home, off to school, raising families, or simply “doing the next thing,” we are foolish if we think that we are now off the hook and our parenting is over. Here’s news: it’s never over. In light of that, we need to keep a vision for our families’ futures clearly set before us. We must define our vision, prayerfully teach toward our vision, and seek encouragement in the process.

Defining the Vision

Scripture tells us that without a vision, the people perish. A vision of hopes, goals, and dreams for how our families are to be molded and shaped for the future is essential. Christian families should take their vision seriously. For homeschooling Christian families, that mandate takes on extra dimensions. To begin analyzing your own vision for your family, ask yourself some basic questions: What are your long-term lifestyle goals for your children and your home? What specific spiritual and character goals do you hope to see your children practicing by the time they reach adulthood? How do you envision their futures in the workforce or in their own homes? How do you hope to see them use and develop their attributes and skills? Be specific.

Here are a few ideas of what I mean. I want my grown children t

     •   seek the Lord’s guidance whenever they make decisions, large or small.

     •   be faithful, no matter what circumstances they may find themselves in.

     •   love their spouses.

     •   be devoted parents.

     •   have compassion, looking to the needs and concerns of others.

In practical skills, I want them to

     •   demonstrate godly character and self discipline in the workplace.

     •   be handy.

     •   nurture an appreciation and enjoyment of the outdoors, art, mechanics, etc. (These goals should be individually defined according to the loves and enjoyments we’d like to pass on.)

This is a minuscule list, of course, but enough to give you the idea. If you sit down with a paper and pencil and begin to ask yourself these questions, you will see a list of goals popping out onto the page, perhaps even some goals you hadn’t considered before. You will begin to clearly define where it is you want to go.

Sometimes our vision for the future is undefined simply because we are caught in periods of discouragement or feelings of being overwhelmed. Sometimes the blatant distractions of keeping up with daily life can keep us from feeling that our vision for our family’s future is attainable. It is never too late, and there is no wrong time to sit down and try to lay out a clearly defined plan–or at least some of our hopes for the future.

We may not be able to see the big picture for the years ahead. In fact, it’s almost certain that we won’t. But like an artist, we can begin to sketch an outline for the final vision. We can daily take our disillusionments, our frustrations, and our failures to the Lord and to His Word. He will give us the pep talk we need, the love we cherish, and the strength we long for to keep our eyes on the prize. Finally, we can begin today with an organized plan to conquer the distractions that threaten to invade our lives so our vision does not become cloudy.

Teaching Toward the Vision

Of course, none of these things just happens because we want them to. While we are fond of thinking that traits like devotion, faithfulness, handiness, and godly decision-making can be caught instead of taught, I’ve not found this to be a reliable way of reaping a desired outcome. Unfortunately, “catching” poor character and worldly, unsatisfying habits is just as likely, if not more so, as catching that which is good and upright. Therefore, teaching toward your vision is not only necessary, but must be persistently and steadfastly done.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:20, Paul reminded the spiritual children he was teaching how he felt toward them. He said, “For ye are our glory and joy.” As parents, we feel the same way toward our earthly children, and we easily feel crushed by disappointment when our children turn astray or make wrong choices. Sometimes we feel as though our ability to teach and mold our children resembles a scramble in the dark, a wild groping for the right way to lead them, train them, discipline them, and love them. But they are a glory and a joy to us, and because God has made them so, we must never lose sight of our vision for them–no matter how far adrift we feel. When we feel weak and exasperated by trouble or setbacks, when our vision dissolves into the hazy and intangible, that is all the more reason to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

Sometimes it is the difficult or chaotic times that shake us up and help us realize that big changes are in order. We can then take those times to reevaluate whether the things we are doing are pushing us toward our vision or away from it. We can restructure our schedules, our priorities, and even our attitudes to fall back in line with our vision.

Encouragement For the Vision

Reviving our vision takes constant effort and vigilance. It takes clear definition of our goals. And sometimes, in all of life’s challenges–and on the homeschooling journey in particular–it takes support and encouragement.

In the book of Exodus, chapter 17, the children of Israel were engaged in a battle with Amalek in Rephidim. God wanted to bless His children; it was His will that they succeed; but it still took effort on their part. This would be no easy battle, quickly won. Particularly, it took effort on Moses’s part. While Joshua led the fight, Moses was given the task to stand on the mountain with the rod of God, holding his hands high.

The day lengthened. The battle raged on. Aaron and Hur brought Moses a rock to sit upon, but his arms grew weary. Heaviness, like lead weights, pulled at his shoulders, and his hands began to droop. When they did, the tide of battle turned against Israel. With supreme effort, he pushed his hands up again. As he did, the battle surged in Israel’s favor. As long as Moses could hold his hands steadily aloft, Israel prevailed.

But Moses’s arms burned. His circulation buzzed in agony. Finally, Aaron and Hur “stayed up” Moses’s hands, one on either side of him, giving him the strength to keep his eyes on the vision of victory God offered. As the weary hours passed and the sun began to set, the Israelites finally triumphed over Amalek. God had blessed Moses as he remained steadfast with the support of others.

Like Moses, we often need support as we aim toward our vision for our children. Mental and physical fatigue, childish rebellion, medical conditions, jobs, extra-family relationships: all keep us engaged in battle continually. We must actively seek support, first from God Himself, our shield and defender, and then from those He places in our lives to uplift and challenge us.

Your encourager may be another homeschooler. It may be a family member, a close friend, or a pastor. It might be someone you can enlist as a prayer partner. Sometimes God places people in our lives who do the job of challenging and uplifting us without even realizing they are being used by Him. Look for those people. But if they don’t seem to be around you, remember God first. He is always there, and He always desires to be your strength.

At the same time, we must try to be that encouragement and support for others. Look for those families around you who may need to be “stayed up” for a while. We are living out God’s Word when we heed His admonition to “bear one another’s burdens.”

Praying to Strengthen the Vision

One of the biggest realities that ever hit me was when I began to grasp just the edges of the magnitude of the ministry God has given me in training my children. I have often heard other parents say, and I’ve said so myself, that my children are my mission field. Yet, that entails so much more than I can fully understand. I need to be constantly aware that my children are only mine to train for a season. It goes by as fast as a warm summer day! Suddenly, they’re grown. Maybe this will sound like an echo, but if you do nothing else, pray, pray, pray! My vision must be ever renewed and bathed in vigilant, fervent prayer. Oh, to be ever mindful of that!

The time will come when our homeschooling will be complete, but our parenting will not. We made a sacrifice to teach our children at home, so let us not grow weary at this juncture. Let’s examine the fullness of the role we’ve been given. Let’s set aside our daily encumbrances for just a bit, while we revive our vision and seek God’s best for the lives and futures of our families. 

 


Naomi and her husband Jeff are the parents of two teen and three adult children. They have homeschooled for 15 years. She has a website dedicated to the encouragement of homeschoolers which can be found at Apples of Gold News

This article was originally published in the May/June 2008 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com to request a FREE sample issue today!

Learning to Let Go

teen daughter & mom talking

We have always home schooled.  I do not know what it is like for my kids to be gone from me on a regular basis.  It is kind of like a safety net for me.  I’m very comfortable with this way of life, yet I feel myself moving into a new stage of life.

This afternoon I was taking my oldest daughter to meet one of her friends for dinner.  My daughter is a few weeks away from turning 17.  While she was chattering away about something that she saw on TV, my mind began to wander and I realized that a year ago, I never would have let her go have dinner with a friend with out me there.  Obviously I was not listening to her (my bad!), but rather I was thinking about how my daughter’s life is changing and how it is affecting me…her ever so protective mom, who wants her children by her always. 

My boundaries for her are growing outward.  This is happening because I see in her a maturity and sense of responsibility that deserves new privileges.

 I think part of me never thought I would actually make it to this day when my daughter was more of a friend than a child.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have to get in her face everynow & then to help her deal with wrong attitudes or actions, but those times are getting less & less. 

Next year is supposed to be her last year of High School.  It doesn’t matter that I have 9 more kids after her that will also have a last year, but this one will always mean more I think because it means a passing into a new season for me.  I have completed raising a child.  She will be an adult.  This huge for me.

So, I’m learning to let go of my need to have her here all the time.  I’m learning to walk along side her and listen to her.  Most of the time, she doesn’t need me telling her what to do…she already knows, she just wants to tell me and I cherish that!